Sep 19, 2013 7:48am
In case anyone cares.....
SDH - Here's my writeup of the 7/15/84 show from "The 1984 Project". Will have to go back and listen to the matrix against what I wrote in my review. I doubt "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" can ever sound good though.
42. 7/15/84 - Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley, CA (Stand out show)http://archive.org/details/gd84-07-15.pcm-sbd.miller.30641.sbeok.flacf
a. Dancin’ in the Streets – Hackles instantly raised at the jangle in the keys. Phil sounds great. Billy and Mickey are each in their own channel. Bobby’s rhythm is in front, Jer is way behind in the mix, but it all blends well and the jangle of the keys is mitigated to a reasonable level. So far this run at the Greek has been solid – with only a little personal bias against chimes and Brent’s jangle coloring my opinion. Off to a good start.
b. Bird Song* – A great example of a tune where bright keys and the occasional chime is made manageable with a good mix. The pace seems a touch slower than earlier versions in 84, but it’s still clearly an 80s up-tempo sound. The drummers are really standing out with how well they are separated. Jerry’s vocals are strong. From 3:00 on, through 10:40 brings us a superb instrumental jam where everyone is mixed near perfectly. You can pull each member out and listen as if they were soloing. Check out Bobby’s rhythm lasers at 5:15. Even Brent’s electronica at 6:45 fits with the flavor they have developed to that point in the tune. Clearly (to me anyway) a contender for all time great consideration. This is a strong Bird Song that will represent the 80s well.
c. New Minglewood Blues* – Nice and bluesey right from the start. B3 keys – always good. Again, the question is Bobby’s “slide” work. Phil sounds really good. Jerry is way in the background. Bobby tiptoes in at 4:00 with safe slide work. Local dogs begin yowling in despair around 4:58. Fortunately this is the only train wreck in the song and it ends a well played tune.
d. Cumberland Blues – Keys are a touch jangly and bright but aren’t overdone so they fit with the tempo and flavor of the tune. Phil is bouncing all over the place. Vocals have a slight echo that makes it sound like the boys are singing in an empty hall. A safe tune, well played.
e. My Brother Esau* – Another good 80s MBE. The mix is just about perfect, cowbells, cymbals and drums are very distinct and are laid down on top of subdued, but sweet sounding keys. Phil’s line is solid. Jerry is slightly behind everyone in right center. Bobby is in front left. Not much to say – still trying to sort out the vocal echo though. Since it’s run through most of the songs so far, it’s probably a source artifact.
f. Ramble On Rose* – Keys are brighter and a touch jangly. Jerry’s vocals are very strong. Bobby’s rhythm sounds really good and again, Billy and Mickey are showcased by the quality of the mix. The occasional chime sneaks in, but doesn’t distract from a good performance of a safe zone tune.
g. Hell In A Bucket* – Phil leads the way with Jerry well back in the mix. Keys and percussion are in the front. Keys have jangle to them that fits given the tempo of the song. Vocal echo is starting to wear thin. I don’t care for the tune that much, but when a tune I’m neutral on is played well you have to recognize it. Definitely a tune that fits the decade.
h. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road – Why don’t we never play this again? This song is gratuitous bullshit and should immediately be skipped or fast forwarded over if not downright purged and deleted. Phil’s feeble attempt at humor by “doing it on the drums” was asinine. For those wondering....I didn’t like it. Pass the salad fork, I’d rather pull my kneecaps off than listen to this again. Ever. Nowhere but up.....
i. China Cat Sunflower* – Anything but the previous song is a huge leap forward. Even if that leap lands you in a chimed up version of China Cat. Slightly jangly electric piano with a touch of chimes. Tempo is 80s – borderline too quick.
j. I Know You Rider* – Jer’s first solo starting around 0:55 is why we all like this tune. Brent’s jangle and chimes are why we don’t like THIS performance of this tune. That said, if you’re looking for a signature 80s version of China>Rider, this was a good one. Note – that’s the only reason this China>Rider gets show stand out status.
k. Playin’ in the Band – The entire second set seems to be sped up and played cleanly and safely. This song is no exception. It’s played well and the jams are good, but it sounds constrained as if they are playing the bare minimum. Not a whole lot of exploration like in earlier versions. Then there’s the shift to jangle keys at 3:05? The jam started to get loose and interesting around 6:50 with some pretty cool rhythm lasers from Bobby, but it was all too short. Even the jangle keys worked here. They could have jammed this out for another 10 minutes or so, but by 9:10 or so they had pulled it back to the safe zone. Some interesting pieces, but given the unrealized potential, it ended up as nothing remarkable.
l. Uncle John’s Band – Jangling your way into UJB is only good if you like Brent’s tinkly, jangly chimey keys. I don’t – so do the math. At least Phil was being Phil and stomping around in the underground oblivious to the random chiming going on around him. If you like Brent and the 80s pace and sound, you no doubt liked this version of UJB, but again, it was too quick for me.
m. Don’t Need Love* – I think I have been overly harsh on this tune.....to a degree. It’s still very bi-polar for me. I don’t like Brent singing lead, but it’s hard to deny that the combination of Jerry on guitar, Mickey on talking drum and Brent’s keys work very well together. I’ll probably hate the next version.
n. Drums* – Sure. It’s Drums. Space will be next. There’s a nice low tom/timpani drum jam in the first four minutes, followed by a very cool “Lionel Hampton tripping the Vibes” sequence from 8:40 to the end. This one was worth sticking around for.
o. Space – Standard fare. Whale song at 1:35? Or Bobby trying his hand out on flugelhorn? We know it’s certainly not Phil. Next.
p. China Doll* – This was as bizarre an opening to China Doll as I’ve heard so far this year. First we get the chimey harpsichord effect from Brent. Then he throws in some straight up harp effects (maybe Andreas Vollenweider is sitting in?). Both sound good and appropriate. Phil is a huge presence right from the start. Then at 0:30, we get some kind of off tempo knock from I’m guessing Mickey. Then a 2:35 someone lays a huge clam – I’m guessing Bobby with some kind of squirreled up rhythm sweep, but it could have been Jerry. Jerry’s vocals have a huge ache in them, but they are strong. Brent’s falsetto backup vocals at 4:35 sound silly, but his harp effect on the keys sounds great. Like other tunes in the second set, this one seemed constrained, but it was odd and different enough to stand out. I liked it.
q. Throwing Stones* – Odd that this tune seems slowed down compared to how the others have been played in the second set. Phil is still huge. Billy and Mickey are playing a very clipped and sharp percussion line. Brent is still jangly and chimey, but again, it fits. Jerry is center left and well behind everyone in the mix, but his runs are clean. Bobby’s rhythm sounds good but is also low and left in the mix. If it stays tight, this could be a good version. So far through 4 minutes it’s solid. The middle instrumental jam starting around 4:10 was very good. Because of the tempo, I got the feeling that they were just waiting to cut loose and blow this one up. Bobby really jumps in the front left with his rhythm at about 5:20. Phil keeps everyone in check and anchored.
r. Not Fade Away – I like the shift to B3 keys. Said Captain Obvious. Jerry’s initial solo and runs were clean and crispy. Everyone is standing on Phil’s shoulders. I like how they walked everyone down over the last two minutes or so and turned it into a Billy/Mickey/Brent jam encouraging the hippies to once again try to clap in time for more than 30 seconds. Sounds like they pulled it off.
s. Brokedown Palace* – It’s always nice to hear Brokedown. This was a really good one – but that might be because it hasn’t been played a lot this year – this was number 7 for 1984. Brent’s B3 sounds great and Jerry’s vocals are strong, if a touch heavy with the echo effects. I’m glad they stepped back to a less frenetic pace that has characterized the second set. Jer’s solo starting around 4:00 is sweet and simple and carries the tune to a nice close. This was good.
t. Johnny B. Goode – Yeah, it’s a safe zone tune, but when it’s well played over top of a great bass bomb line and B3 keys, it’s going to be a stand out. A good end to a great show.
This was a really good show. If it weren’t for the abomination of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” this would easily be a show of the year contender. There were jangly keys, and in a handful of tunes, the chimes were just a half a dB from being overdone, but the quality of the mix, Phil’s ever present bass line, strong vocals and Billy and Mickey’s distinct separation more than made up for my personal bias against the typical 84 “Brent keys” sound. In fact, this whole three day run at the Greek was pretty darn good making July the high water mark so far. While 7/15 was not a candidate for show of the year, it’s clearly a Top 5.....for now.